Friday, December 6, 2013



*  Special thanks to "Google Images", "",
"",  "CNNMoney", ""
and "US News &World Report"

by Felicity Blaze Noodleman
Los Angeles, CA
12. 6.13

Now that the holiday shopping season is in full swing, now that we have past “Black Friday”, “Small Business Saturday” and “Cyber Monday” and now that we have fewer than 20 days left to shop, the question still lingers!  What, or should we say, how is the best way to shop?  There are so many outlets where we are able to make those holiday purchases.  All of these options have their advantages and disadvantages (as if), some save us time while others save us money and some offer convenience over other considerations! 

Is the real truth about shopping more psychological than about where we are shopping?  Somehow we just have the need to do our shopping and won’t stop until that urge has been satisfied or until we have run out of money, or even worse, until we have reached our credit limit?  Even then some find money from other sources so that they may continue to feed the need to shop! 

Shopping has ramped up as consumers rush to get last minute gifts, but experts say the late push may not be enough to save holiday retail sales. A weekend wedged in right before Christmas seemed like the perfect gift for procrastinators who wait until the 23rd hour for holiday shopping, or shoppers who wait for one last big sale.
Estimates for the final shopping weekend aren't out yet, but there's evidence that more shoppers were coming into stores as the holidays drew near.

Holiday shopping on Thanksgiving?!?
Very cleverly, retailers began preparing you to begin your holiday shopping back in October before Halloween.  Each year seems earlier and earlier!  They are trying to expand their holiday profits by stretching those shopping days as much as they are possibly able!

Some sources or avenues for shopping fulfill that need for instant gratification while others content us with the knowledge of what really is important is the thought behind giving, especially when it’s long distance!  This article will attempt to unravel, de-cloak and expose the best method for accomplishing our holiday shopping in the modern day!

Ask yourself a simple question: is it possible to beat “Walmart” or “Sam’s Club” in the world of retail merchandising?  I mean, they just about have everything imaginable – and at the best ever prices.  Stores like these are volume discounters.  They operate on a very small profit margin per item and earn their very huge income by brute force – VOLUME!

5 Tips for Simplifying Holiday Shopping

Holiday shopping is no simple feat. Many savvy shoppers literally shop for the holidays year round. Even if you aren’t buying stocking stuffers in August, there are some ways you can make the process easier.

1. Make a List and Check it Twice. Keep your shopping list organized with by following the Who-What-Where-When-Why Rule.
Who do you have to buy for?
What are you going to get?
Where are you getting it?
When are you giving / shipping?
Why? Well, because giving is fun!
If you want a modern version of the shopping list, check out the app store for apps like Gift It.

2. Give a Signature Gift. says “Don’t be afraid to give repeat gifts.” If your family enjoys apersonalized calendar one year, repeat the gift again next year. We receive a Swarovski ornament every year from my dad and stepmom and while it’s obviously not a surprise, it is one of my favorite things to open every Christmas.

3. Have a Go-To Gift. Real Simple also suggests picking one gift for those outside your immediate family that has special meaning to you. For example, we’re sending several members of our family German chocolate. It represents where we are this year and we know they’ll all enjoy it.

4. Donate to a Charity. There is inevitably at least one person on your list who is difficult to shop for because it seems like he literally has everything. Honor him with a donation to a charity with special meaning.

5. Shop Strategically. We love online shopping and it is the best tool for streamlining holiday shopping, but we still have to hit brick and mortar stores for many things. Plan your trips strategically. In other words, don’t hit the local shopping mall the weekend before Christmas. We may have learned that from experience.

The merchants next in line for our discussion today are the more traditional retail merchants who seem to have been around forever and a day.  These are the stores who fill our shopping malls from coast to coast.  These are the stores that put the fun into shopping!  These merchants have gone all out here during the holidays to accommodate our shopping – well for the lack of a better term, LUST, and these stores in many ways are one of the fundamental rights of the holidays!  Am I wrong?

Now to let’s ask ourselves another question; what if all  the holiday decorations were suddenly removed from our cities because these retailers were no longer around for us?  I like to think of these optional stores, in the world of shopping, as the “higher end” specialty stores.  They include all stores both large and small and all have a purpose for the discriminating shopper!  They charm us with their displays inside and out, they sooth our minds with their beautiful music and the fragrances which fill our sense of smell put us in another world.

Soon, we have forgotten our troubles and cares.  We have reached that special state of Nirvana which is by now pumping us full of Endorphins stimulating those special receptors in our brain and will keep us coming back again and again until we are old and gray.  Sounds like the best drug in the world!

Snatch a Price Match

1.  Did you know that many bricks and mortar stores like Target, Best Buy and Staples will match online giant Amazon’s lowest prices? Here’s how it works: Find the items you are interested in at the bricks and mortar store, then using your smartphone, search for the same item online. If you you can find a lower price at Amazon– the other store will match it!
Tip: Skip the regular check out line and head to customer service for this and have your online “deal” ready to show. The store will look it up and if it’s legit, they’ll match the price!

2. Ask and You May Receive: Even if you are shopping a a small brick and mortar store and they don’t have any policy posted about matching an online store’s prices. Last weekend my husband hit our local cycling shop for some gloves. He was able to pull up the same cycling gloves at an online retailer for $7 LESS. He simply asked the salesperson if they price matched and he got the glove he wanted for the discounted price. Plus no shipping!
Tip: Don’t be embarrassed to bring up a lower price you found online. You are also helping the store make a sale– even if they give it to you for the lower price.

3. Picture It: Use your smartphone to snap photos of potential gifts as you see them. When you’re ready to do your holiday shopping, you’ll have made yourself a visual shopping list and slashed your stress!
Tip: Try and get the PRICE of the item in the photo as well, so you can score the best deals.

4. “Like” It for Special Steals and Deals: Use your smartphone or tablet to get on Facebook and “Like” the  stores where you might buy  consider holiday presents. Many businesses will give you a coupon or special offer just for throwing them a like. Plus, you’ll get notified via your Facebook feed when they are having sales and discounts.
Tip: If you decide you aren’t interested in the store, you can always “unlike” it later to stop receiving their feed.

5. Get “App”-y:  You can also utilize your smartphone  to download shopping apps. Do an online search of “best shopping apps” to see what’s out there and choose the best app(s) for you! Tip: You might also consider seeing if your favorite stores have their own free money-saving apps. It’s another great way to save some cash!

Some of us shop just so we will be able to let our special Santa what we want and where the best place to get it is.  We don’t want to be disappointed because we didn’t make a list he could check twice.  As the old saying goes, “a closed mouth is never satisfied” and we never want to hear “well you should have said something”.   I think this is an area where most of us don’t have a problem!

Next; we come to the new kids in the world of shopping.  The retailers on line!  The “Cyber Stores”.  Many of us shop on line because the Internet never closes.  No matter how we are dressed, weather in sickness or health, sometimes even in our sleep we sit down to the computer with our favorite beverage and snack to see who has the best prices, services and locations.  Cyber Stores are the catalogs of our day and age.   We may even buy on line and have our merchandise shipped any place in the world.  All without even setting foot out our front door!

There are a few things to keep in mind when going on line to shop.  First; any savings which might be found are quickly devoured by the expenses incurred by shipping your purchase over the Internet.  If you are shopping for someone out of your local area however; this could turn into a huge plus and save a tremendous amount of time both in shopping, packaging and sending your gift. Secondly remember; items bought on line are more difficult to exchange and return. Finally; sizing and fitting are almost impossible when shopping for clothing on line, so be careful!

One area we haven’t covered yet are those of us who just don’t shop at all.  We are the “card stuffers”.  We don’t want to disappoint with a gift that won’t meet the expectations of our loved ones.  We pick a nice card and enclose it with the always appreciated denominations of “dead Presidents” or a gift card from a store we feel will be well received by those whom we wish to bestow our kindness upon. 

This was my Grandmothers philosophy and I know she didn’t give it a second thought.  She knew her gift would be long remembered and appreciated, even after she had passed on.  If you really want to hear your loved ones squeal with glee make sure that card is filled with both cash and several gift cards for food and merchandise!

"US News & World Report"

10 New Tech Tools That Make 
Holiday Shopping Easier
From apps to new websites, these tools will help you stay organized, find deals and save money
December 3, 2013 

Shopular's app displayed on an iPhone.

The crush of holiday spending can do major damage to budgets, despite our best efforts to stay in control. Fortunately for shoppers, entrepreneurs and app developers have embraced the challenge of the season and put their talents to good use: Building tools to help us survive with our sanity, and our bank accounts, intact.
Here are 10 new tools that make it easier to defend your time and cash from the onslaught of the season:
1. Sift
If you're stuck on what to purchase for your significant other, parent or any other loved ones in your life, this free app can help. It tells you what products are flying off the shelves at your favorite stores (out of a database of more than 3,000 stores) and also sorts through your custom preferences – and email newsletters you receive from retailers – to help make suggestions. TechCrunch recently reported that the service received $2 million from supporters to further expand.

"Sift helps consumers save tons of time and money by aggregating all of their shopping and deal-related emails. ... Instead of having to weed through countless emails, users can simply flick through Sift and find items and deals that are tailored to their specific shopping fingerprint," says Saurin Shah, co-founder and CEO at Sift. He adds that Sift users access five times the number of deals as people who just look through emails.  Best for: Anyone in need of last-minute gift ideas.
2. Gyft
Since gift cards will be a popular gift this year, with the National Retail Federation reporting that the average shopper will spend a record $163 on them, you're going to need a way to keep track of the ones you receive. (Forgetting to use a gift card is as wasteful as losing cash, after all.) The app Gyft lets you uploadyour gift cards, purchase new ones, track balances and spend them. "You never have to worry about losing a card again," says Vinny Lingham, CEO of Gyft. He adds that Gyft's loyalty program also allows users to earn points that can be redeemed for purchases.  Best for: People with wallets full of gift cards or plans to hand out gift cards at the holidays.

3. Shopular
Already used by more than 1 million shoppers, this app lets you know about current deals while you're shopping. In other words, you can walk into the shopping mall, and get alerts about discounts from your favorite nearby stores. In that way, it's similar to other apps, like SaleSorter, that pull information on current markdowns at shoppers' favorite stores and push those alerts to consumers.
"Shopular will give its users an edge this holiday season, [since] they'll carry the best in-store coupons and circulars all on one device … As you reach the mall, Shopular will automatically alert you to hot deals at your favorite stores," says Shopular CEO Navneet Loiwal. Coupons can be redeemed by just showing your smartphone at the register, he adds.  Best for: People who love to browse shops in-person but don't want to miss out on any special deals.
4. ShopGenius
Like the online tool PriceBlink, ShopGenius works as a browser add-on that lets shoppers check prices elsewhere on their item without leaving the website that they're on. The tool lets you know if you'll be able to find a lower price for the same product elsewhere. "ShopGenius [enables consumers] to view the best available price for products they are shopping for online without leaving the e-commerce page they are on. This has special
benefit for time-pressed, budget-conscious shoppers who have limited time to search for the best available product price," says Dave Compton, CEO of ShopGenius.  Best for: Shoppers who make a significant portion of their purchases online.
5. Boxed
If you like the appeal of bulk discounts at Costco or Sam's Club, but don't live near a warehouse club or don't want to bother visiting (and paying to join) one, then Boxed is for you. Shoppers can make purchases via the app, schedule deliveries and get free delivery for orders more than $75.
"Boxed brings the savings of warehouse club right to your mobile device," says Chieh Huang, CEO and founder of Boxed. Membership is free, and Huang says most orders arrive within a day or two. (Free overnight shipping is available in select cities.) "Save your free time for things that really matter," he adds.
Best for: People who love buying in bulk but dislike the hassle of visiting warehouse clubs.

6. EasilyDo
Many of us feel overwhelmed at some point during the holidays, and the app EasilyDo promises to act as a "personal assistant" to help us stay organized and save time. It deletes deal-related emails that have expired from your inbox, files e-receipts for you, tracks packages and lets you know when they've arrived, and makes it easy to store your lists in one place. It also sends you bad weather alerts.
"Most of us shop, travel and party more during the holidays than at any other time of the year," says Mikael Berner, founder and CEO of EasilyDo. "Jumping between airports, malls and holiday get-togethers can make it difficult to stay on top of our lives, and it's easy to miss something we care about when we are overwhelmed by all the little things we haven't had time to do. EasilyDo proactively makes sure you never miss anything."  Best for: Stressed out, overbooked holiday shoppers.
7. Slice
Slice, an app and online tool, collects your purchase and shipping information from online purchases to make it easy to track your shipments, make returns, get price drop alerts (and then assistance on requesting a partial refund from retailers to make up the difference) and alerts if one of your purchases is recalled. Since it collects this information automatically, you don't need to manually enter anything.
"Slice helps consumers effortlessly make sure they get the best price on the gifts they buy with price protection. Most shoppers don't think to monitor the price of an item after they've bought it, but Slice does it for them by automatically alerting them when the price drops, so they can recoup the difference and make sure they get the best deal," explains Thad Hwang, vice president of product for Slice.
Best for: Time-pressed online shoppers who want to make sure they always get the best deal.
8. Scoutfit or Shop It To Me
Instead of constantly monitoring items for potential price drops, ScoutFit tracks items on your shopping list for you and then sends you alerts when they go on sale. The browser button lets users track specific items, and then sends an email when it reaches the shopper's desired price or goes on sale. It also offers recommendations for related or similar products. Shop It To Me, an email service as well as a new app, lets you know when your favorite clothing brands go on sale in your size.
"Scoutfit saves all gift lists in one place, and if things go as expected, Scouters will receive emails every day with price drop alerts so that they can buy all of the items they're shopping for at a sale price. Scoutfit will also provide up-to-date coupon codes while you shop," says Scoutfit's co-founder and vice president of marketing, Lainie Herrera.
Charlie Graham, CEO of Shop It To Me, says his service "makes shopping all of the December sales easy. Put in your favorite brands of clothing, shoes, handbags and accessories, and your individual sizes. We'll track the store sales for you and let you know as soon as your favorite brands go on sale in your size." He adds that using the service also saves you time because you don't have to sort through retailer emails or aimlessly surf the web for sales.  Best for: Online window shoppers who don't want to buy until they know they're getting the lowest price.
9. FoolProofme, an educational website, offers an impulse buying test that calculates just how much impulse purchases can cost a person over his or her lifetime. For example, it reports that shoppers spend $11 or more on average each time they use a credit card instead of cash for small purchases, which can add up to $55,000 over one's lifetime. It also offers videos, articles and tips for staying in control of purchases. "The test allows you to see which areas can get you into trouble," says FoolProof spokesman Remar Sutton. "It gets you to slow down and have some fun online learning about how you waste money," he adds.
Best for: Overspenders who need some help with tamping down their costs during the holidays.
10. PopNod
The website PopNod has collaborated with more than 350 retailers and organizations, including Zappos and Best Buy, to make it possible for shoppers to get cash back on their purchases, and then donate a portion to charity. Shoppers can shop at their favorite stores online from within the site and then choose to donate between 0 to 100 percent of their cashback. "PopNod does all the hard work so shoppers can save money and help their favorite causes," says Stephanie David, co-founder of PopNod.
Best for: Online shoppers who want to feel good about giving back while taking care of their shopping list.  Best for: Online shoppers who want to feel good about giving back while taking care of their shopping list.
"US News & World Report"

Now we come to that special breed of shopper – the men in our lives.  Every man I’ve ever met has boldly proclaimed that they do not like stores or shopping and hate it!  I’ve discovered that is just not true – it just depends upon the kind of store where they feel comfortable and what they like to shop.  These are the hardware’s and sporting stores like “Home Depot” and “Big 5” for example.  

Men love tools and they love anything related to camping and the great outdoors.  It is these establishments that you will actually see the man in your life revert to his childhood and his eyes will light up and twinkle.  Trust me, if you give your man anything  that says “Craftsman” or “Coleman” your job will be done and he will talk about for some time to come – he will even use them instead of stuffing them in the closet!  They also live any kind of technical gadget as well.  Oh yes; and they respond very well to food!

Don’t let your shopping lead to "Blue Monday" or a "Blue January" as you think of all the debt you have piled up over the holidays!  With just 19 days left for holiday shopping it might be wise to plan a budget for the remainder of your gift giving purchases and remember to spend wisely!  Oh; and don't forget to give to your favorite charity's.  Your gift will mean so much for so many who have so little.  I'm Felicity with the Noodleman Group helping you shop and hoping you don't drop!

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* “The Noodleman Group” is pleased to announce that we are now carrying a link to the “USA Today” news site.We installed the “widget/gadget” August 20, and it will be carried as a regular feature on our site.Now you can read“Noodleman” and then check in to “USA Today” for all the up to date News, Weather, Sports and more!Just scroll all the way down to the bottom of our site and hit the “USA Today” hyperlinks.Enjoy!

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